Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Taste of Blood

Herschell Gordon Lewis was evidently feeling confident enough in his film making abilities when he set to work on his 1967 picture A Taste of Blood, a straight Horror film without the bankable nudity and splatter that had made his earlier movies so successful. In A Taste of Blood, John Stone, a mild-mannered businessman is transformed into a cantankerous vampire after unwittingly drinking a brandy laced with the blood of his ancestor, Dracula no less, long since dead but still exacting revenge on his enemies by having Stone kill their descendants. Donald Stanford's original screenplay The Secret of Dr. Alucard which relocated the vampire mythos to contemporary America was hardly a novel idea, despite predating Stephen King's novel 'Salem's Lot by several years, Dracula had already stalked 50's California in The Return of Dracula (1958) while the Count was transplanted to more wackier surroundings in William One Shot Beaudine's 1966 Wild West/Horror hybrid Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. Still, the idea of a proxy war fought by the modern day relatives of Dracula and Van Helsing is a genuinely intriguing notion but Lewis almost completely ruins it with the gargantuan slog that is A Taste of Blood.


Running an unrelenting 117mins, A Taste of Blood is a dour, humourless and endlessly talky film. Worse still, the film features only a token amount of bloodshed with the odd stab wound or gashed throat to savour between oceans of dialogue scenes shot in well-furnished living rooms. At least Blood Feast had between bouts of carnage, inept direction and dreadful dialogue to enjoy, A Taste of Blood however has no such pleasant diversions - on this picture, Lewis' directing skills are improved (comparatively speaking) and the screenplay has very few howlers. Fortunately the sequences where the vampire stalks his prey are well-handled - rather than have his vampire skulk around in a cape, flashing a set of fangs, Lewis lights his monster in a blue glow, which makes actor Bill Rogers' pasty crumbling makeup all the more eerie, a cheap but surprisingly effective idea. Also, worthwhile are some subtle nods to classic vampire films, like a scene where a ship's captain is snooping around a coffin Stone has collected in London recalls a similar moment in Nosferatu, while in the film's final act, Stone's wife Helene draped in a billowing nightdress, is summoned trance-like to her husband, echoing a scene from Dracula. Incidentally, lookout for Lewis doubling as the aforementioned ship's captain, complete with cockney accent ("Alrite Guv'nor!") and students of Trash Cinema should keep their eyes peeled for an early screen credit for J.G Patterson, listed here as an associate producer, but better known as the director of the deadly dull Dr. Gore (1973), and the marginally better Electric Chair (1976).

2 comments:

  1. Pere-Lachaise in Paris? George Melies and the Cinema of Imagination? I read your comment behind the couch on Abney Park Cemetery, so I had to come visit you. I love hiding Behind the Couch, and I have been stuck there for about an hour and a half reading cemetery posts. I thought I was going to be able to get to work on my own blog down at the prison, but then I saw your comment, and had to check out Plutonium Shores. And then I just read your post on vampires, and saw your reference to Nosferatu, and I just did a write up on Nosferatu, so here I am stuck again. I'm afraid I'm never going to get any work done, if I don't stop veering off to horror blogs unknown. But I'm glad I did in this case. You know your stuff, and I dig on variety and a wealth of information. So thanks. Great post. Until next time...Keep those fires stoked.
    Eternally Yours

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  2. Warden Stokely, I'm honoured that you took time out of your eternally busy schedule guarding the abominations of the Bottomless Pit to write me with those kind words. Really enjoyed your Nosferatu, it's truly one of the great Occult movies. Have you seen Witchcraft Through the Ages ? I think you might like this one...

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